The Mexican locals are some of the nicest people you will meet. There are endless strips of beach to walk down, coming across different villages, or getting a chance to see giant turtles swimming into the sea.
The water is warm and it envelopes you in such a wonderful way. There are so many sights to see, from whales jumping high in the deep ocean, to the old villages that have existed for hundreds of years.
The food is delectable, with an array of different Mexican staples available to you for sampling. As the night grows near, the party life lights up, with different clubs and bars to dance the night away at. With the right company of friends, Puerto Vallarta is a simply magical get away.
Now I know this exotic vacation destination ideas may not appeal to everyone but I had a great time there. Usually around a week into July, there is a convention there called Convergence for people who enjoy dressing up in costumes, playing games and having a beverage or two.
Convergence usually takes place at the Sheraton (Bloomington) so you don't have to drive anywhere as you can stay right at the convention. You get to see costumes by people who make costumes you swear were in a movie, have a card game with someone who is literally a nuclear technician, and if you like, trade a shot of brandy with a grizzled old fellow who remembers the 60's.
This eclectic collection of people is not for everyone, but if you have kids that like anime, a teenager that watched Buffy, and you remember seeing Star Wars and liking it, you might just enjoy a weekend at Convergence.
After orientation, we went to a 16th century manor house that now functions as a Bed and Breakfast outside the town of Down Patrick.
This was on Sunday evening, and Monday we went to our build site in Down Patrick. Habitat for Humanity’s work in Northern Ireland is to build communities and work for peace as well as affordable housing. So we spent most of each week framing, closing and roofing a duplex home.
Meanwhile, we met with families, got to know the people who would live in the homes, and traveled on certain days for leisure and for education. Seeing the murals in Belfast was very powerful, and we also got to meet with government officials who taught us more about the Irish “troubles” as well as the United States’ role in peace making.
We had a fantastic three day “r and r” trip to the coast of Ireland, where we especially enjoyed touring a whiskey distillery and walking about the Giants’ Causeway. At my request, we got to visit the city of Coleraine since that was my grandfather’s hometown. It was truly remarkable discovering my family roots and heritage.
Back in Down Patrick we also had ample time for exploring and for visiting the burial place of St. Patrick. We ate our dinners at local restaurants and had fabulous take-out one night from an Indian eatery.
I highly recommend traveling with Habitat for Humanity: Global Village trips are somewhat pricey but that is because they always include a large donation to the building. It is tremendously gratifying to combine volunteering with vacationing.
Gatlinburg and its neighbor Pigeon Forge are two beautiful southern Tennessee cities famous for tourist attractions like Dollywood, Ripley's Museum, miniature golf, outlet stores, souvenir shops, arts and crafts, and much more. They are rich in southern heritage and culture.
You can do everything from helicopter rides to indoor ice skating all in the same area, on the same day. Gatlinburg is situated in a beautiful valley on the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are hundreds of miles of roads and trails rich with beautiful nature and spectacular views. The real deal in going to the area is to rent a cabin in the mountains for the weekend or the week. The price can be as much as 75% cheaper than a hotel room, depending on the season.
There are many websites online where you can see full picture tours of hundreds of cabins and secure your reservations for next weekend or next year. Chances are, you will not even want to leave the cabin, once you get there and see how peaceful it is.
If American Revolutionary history is your passion then Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are a must-see. With quaint shops and delicious local food options, you can spend an entire afternoon downtown and never feel overwhelmed or tired.
Additionally, the Boston Children's Museum is one of the best I've seen. From engaging educational exhibits to intriguing experiments, children and adults will have a good time learning about everything from far off cultures to the physics of bubbles.
Just around the corner, in Cambridge, is Harvard Square; a cornucopia of culture that offers a slice of social life in the Commonwealth. Populated by college students, street performers and dozens of eateries, Harvard Square has winding streets that seem to offer a new adventure around every corner.
My favorite part of the trip happened to be Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. This old stadium has more character than many of the modern arenas we are used to.
While the boisterous crowds can be somewhat off putting, the camaraderie is everywhere, inviting in all who care to stay. If you are looking to learn more about our fine country and experience a place that is neither imposing nor intimidating then make New England your vacation destination idea.